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From Lion Fox & Co

Wife of a Navy Sailor

It is approaching my husband’s seventh year as a sailor for the Royal Australian Navy. One thing I have learnt during these six years of our relationship is how I have developed resilience, patience and a thick skin. Because let me assure you, that it has not been smooth sailing.

It began six years ago in Melbourne. Where Chris and I chatted online, met and we pretty much instantly fell in love with one another. Chris was approaching the end of his trade training period and during our first date was quick to let me know that inevitably he was going to move. There were a couple of destinations on offer and Perth was his first choice. I had an open mind and was willing to see where it led. When the time came and he was arranging the move I jumped on board. Shortly after, I gave up my job, said goodbye to my family and committed to moving to a new state.

We had moved, settled into our first home, I got a new job and yep I fell pregnant. It was completely unplanned. We were just a couple of horny people who sucked at contraception. Again, we rolled with the punches (sometimes figuratively as those hormones were wild) because it would be unavoidable that he was posted to a ship. Not long after I said farewell to Chris when I was about half way through my pregnancy with Lucas. Chris went on his first overseas trip to support those requesting early leave, and I think he was gone for about five or six weeks. Peace of cake!

It wasn’t until Lucas was born that shit got real. Chris missed out on so many of Lucas’s milestones, especially during his first year. Sadly he didn’t hear Lucas say his first words, or see when he first crawled, and the worst was his first birthday. Because Chris was absent from his life, even when he was home Lucas only ever wanted me which just put further strain on their bond.

Our first real deployment, back in 2012 where Chris was absent for three months..

So to put things into perspective, there is a belief that family members are only absent during a deployment. Wrong! The preparation can be just as long as a deployment. At the beginning of 2014 Chris was absent from his family on and off for a total for 18 months. Yes 18 months! During this time there were weekly running’s, a combination of training drills and assessments. Chris and his crew were sent to search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, making matters worse. As it was a delicate matter there was little to no communication. Families would only receive a weekly email from the captain of the ship to advise that morale was high.

Lucas was not ready to say Goodbye. Our last 2014 deployment.

Later that year, they deployed for the middle east and three weeks into the stint I became incredibly ill.  On my 30th birthday I developed cholecystitis and pancreatitis caused by a gall stone attack. I had been having these attacks for a couple of years, but oddly thought it was just a bit of heartburn so I never addressed it. I was hospitalized after tests concluded that I was really sick, and I was a mess. There was little to no family support and I needed to care for a demanding two year old. I was knocking on my neighbours door in tears because I needed help, and once I was spoke with the surgeon it was inevitable that I would need surgery.

Now began the daunting task of getting Chris sent home. I can assure you that it was the most stressful thing I had ever experienced. We were told over and over again that it was not considered serious enough to warrant a flight back home. I was on a strict no fat diet because I could not risk another episode, because lets face it pancreatitis is something you can’t mess with. I lost several kilograms and developed an anxiety disorder.

Chris was doing everything at his end, but no one was listening. He has even threatened to get drunk in every port just so that he could get sent home. I remember speaking with a woman from DCO’s hotline. For reasons I don’t know said to me that my friend’s would feel honoured, yes honoured, if I asked them to care for both me and my son. My mouth gaped in disbelief, did she actually say that to me? I wanted my husband and it was his responsibility to care for Lucas and I.

It wasn’t until I received support from a Chaplain that the seriousness of the procedure was fully realised. Thankfully Chris was sent home, I had my surgery, and thank the heavens that he was posted home as I spent three days in ICU and later transferred to another hospital for a follow up procedure. Since then I have not been able to cope with my anxiety, and now require medication to keep it at bay. Another stress inducing episode of Navy wife life, is the Navy wives.

It was like high school all over again, friends left as soon as they came. And what I mean by that is when your husbands were no longer working together on a ship, friendship was void. This had happened several times, it was so bloody upsetting and infuriating. I am serious about friendships and lets face, it we’re all far too mature for the dramas that lie within the circle of their lives.

Chris spent further time away in 2015, and during this time we started having our first home built. Something always went wrong when he was away, it was like Murphy’s Law or something. I always relied on the support of other people to ensure that the house was up to scratch. Another hole to add to my bucket of anxiety. Thankfully Chris has now been posted ashore for over twelve months, and good thing too otherwise we would not have been able to conceive with our gorgeous little man Flynn. Not long now until discharge and we can gain better control over our lives.

That’s all for now.

Much love

Melanie xx

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Mastitis Bites!

Breastfeeding mothers can understand the fear of getting Mastitis. When you are discharged from hospital, the midwife drills into your long term memory bank the side effects of mastitis and how can it become a serious illness. This is a bloody good thing as it’s probably one of the worst thing I’ve experienced postpartum.

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So last week I woke up around midnight with a terrible ache in my right breast. The pain traveled from my nipple through to my armpit, and I could barely lift my arm above my head. So I decided to wake Flynn up, hoping and praying that he could unblock my clogged milk duct because I didn’t have time to get sick.Well… apparently I was a bit of a bitch that night because I snapped at Chris whilst he was soundly sleeping. He is probably right though, I don’t do well with sickness and pain. I am always quick to Google what’s wrong with me, which is a terrible habit and it induces my anxiety further.

After Flynn was fed I went back to sleep, only to wake up feeling worse and it continued to progress throughout the day. It wasn’t until the afternoon that I developed a large red lump and then the fever set in. The aches and pains were horrendous. I called the Australian Breastfeeding Association, and we both agreed that I should begin my antibiotics. Thank God, because I woke up later that night with a high temperature and a chill had set in. I was chattering away whilst trying to encourage Flynn to feed, and then once he had finished I was trying stealing some warmth from Chris’s body.

I still didn’t feel any better the following day, I was actually worse. I could barely stand, fever over 39 degrees Celsius, dizzy spells and even some nausea. I spent my day laying on the lounge or in bed. Thankfully by that night, the symptoms eased and then I woke up the next day feeling more like myself. I was out of it for three whole days and I even considered taking a trip to the emergency department so I could get the intravenous antibiotics.

So what really helped me through Mastitis was hot and cold compresses. Also feed, feed feed and pump, pump, pump! The process that I developed was to warm my breast with a hot cloth, feed, bump and then place a cold pack over the lump. I even pumped on my all fours, which made me feel like a bloody cow. But hey.. it worked and I’m thankful that I’m better. I’m now also taking a tablet called Lecithen, which apparently helps with the stickiness of the milk and prevents the milk ducts from getting blocked. I’m willing to try anything to prevent that from happening again.

So mums and mums to be, don’t sit on mastitis. Act fast, otherwise you may end up in hospital and it can end your breastfeeding journey.

Much love

Melanie xx

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The Art of Conversation

It’s been a while since I’ve seen my mum and dad. I think the last time was when Mel and I got married in October 2013 (the 11th for those playing at home!). We don’t even talk that much on Skype or FB chat. Truth is, besides a very select number of really close friends, I don’t really talk to anyone. I don’t really feel the need.

As confusing as it may seem to people that know me quite well, as my mouth is usually always going. Trust me, it is something I’m trying to work on!

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To paraphrase the above quote from Plato, It’s better to be a person of wisdom, instead of someone who has been struck down with a bad case of prolixity. I have a massive tendency to drift off course and give too much detail in stories that it usually ends up being this long, drawn out meandering tale of nothing. Which is kind of what I’m doing now, so back on track with this train of thought! The whole purpose of me getting on here was to tell you about the impending visit of Nanny and Poppy, and Poppy’s sister and brother-in-law, my Aunt and Uncle.

Unfortunately, good communication is something of a shortfall when it comes to family and friends. I tend to only chat to them when I have something to say. I guess I don’t see the point in just saying ‘Hi’ for the sake of it. I’d much rather not speak to you at all for a few months, then have an awesome conversation about what we have both been up to, than speak a few times a week and have the same old conversation. It’s also probably one of the main reasons that it takes me ages to write a blog post.

I also just spent far too long looking for a picture of an example. But I think you all get the point.

It will be a great opportunity to spend some time with my folks and for them to see not only Lucas, but their new grandson, Flynn. Without placing labels, Mel and I are pretty slack when it comes to every grandparent’s favourite communication method, Skype. The video chatting platform is an amazing tool when used effectively, or if you’re anything like me, it’s viewed as a form of cruel torture. Forcing you to stay in one spot so that you can actually see how bored the other person is with your conversation too!

Quite possibly, I’m just having one massive whinge about keeping in touch with family. Yes, I agree it should be done, but it should be done under our own volition. Not through some feeling of obligation to the other person. Will this ruffle some feathers? Maybe. You’ll survive though. You’re pretty tough on the other side of the internet and this is my page, and my opinions. Hah!

Whether we like it or not, there is an insurmountable amount of pressure put on us (internal and external) to be a certain kind of person or to behave a certain way. It’s up to us, and us alone to determine who we want to be in order to lead a life we value. Do I want to be the kind of person who is talking to you all the time about nothing? No. Absolutely not. Do I want you to message me ‘just to see how I am’? Nope. Do I want to talk about how you and I can change the world, or your hopes and dreams for the the future? Yes, absolutely! Do I want you to call or message me when you genuinely need a friend or a helping hand. Absolutely, 100%, yes!

Am I guilty of all of these. Once again, yes.

So from this moment on, let us declare our own war, before the new POTUS has his chance!
A war on shitty conversations about shitty things, that in the grand scheme of things don’t really matter.
Let us have conversations of substance, meaning and passion so that we can push our friendships into new, uncharted territory.

Peace out!

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